Our attention is rightly directed to rescuing people trapped in collapsed buildings. But one of the worrying issues for Haiti in the near and long is the extent to which this disaster wiped out state institutions. One of the most important institutions that has helped bring security to the Haitian people over the past five years was the Haitian police. The UN, with Canada in the lead, had made significant strides toward developing a professional Haitian police force. The United States also has longstanding ties toward the development of a professional Haitian police force.
In 1994, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly lead a contingent of over 3,000 police from 20 countries to serve as international police monitors. The vast majority (about 2,400) were American. And of this American contingent were a significant number of Haitian-American police.
Early reports suggest that the Hatian police took a big hit. does not bode well for maintaining law and order in the medium and long term. I just spoke with James Dobbins of the RAND Corporation (who literally has written the book on nation building.) He suggests that the United States once again tap Kreyole speaking American police officers to support the UN police during this time of crisis. I agree. And maybe the city of New York can spare a leave of absence for Commissioner Kelly? In the days to come, the Haitian police will need all the help they can get.